From blankets and books to stuffed bears, there is no shortage of offers to help the families of Sandy Hook from right next door to around the world.
But according to Newtown Public School District's Web site, the Board of Education has specifically singled out one fund — organized through Newtown Savings Bank and the United Way of Western Connecticut — in lieu of other gifts. The Sandy Hook School Support Fund has been set up to provide direct monetary assistance to families of victims and the community.
Newtown Savings Bank CEO John Trentacosta told Patch that the fund came together as a response to countless requests.
"We had no experience of dealing with anything of this magnitude," he said, so the bank reached out to the United Way. "They agreed to help us be custodians of the fund."
Newtown Savings Bank and the United Way are planning to form an independent advisory board that will make decisions on how to get the money out, Trentacosta said, but bank and foundation officials won't make the final call. More likely, he said, everyone from town religious leaders and PTA members to Board of Education members and first responders will have a say over how the funds are used.
The United Way has come to aid in similar situations in the past, including in Littleton, Colorado. "There's a tremendous amount of need," Trentacosta said. "... A lot of individuals can't go back to work after that."
The bank can't disclose how much has been raised so far, but support has been widespread and the United Way has been utilizing the press and social media to spread the word.
"You have to understand — this was done as a reaction. People wanted to know how to give," Trentacosta said. "We're not actually doing an active solicitation ... What we're trying to do is be responsive and helpful to our communities and the citizens who were impacted by [this tragedy]."
To contribute to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, visit the United Way's donation page.